Muzzy: A Simpler Way to Keep Track of Now Playing

There are a few different camps when it comes to iTunes, and while I don’t mind the music-playing monster, I don’t mind finding a simpler way to get my tunes played, either. If it looks good, that’s even better, right?

I decided to try out Muzzy, because rather than acting as a separate music player, it works with iTunes to deliver my music to me. Its clean interface sets it apart as an early winner, and I’ll see if Muzzy has the features to take home the prize or if it falls short at the finish line.
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Play It Again, Sam

Muzzy works with iTunes, so you’re going to need it open to get Muzzy to do anything. If Muzzy is running but iTunes isn’t, the app can take care of that for you with a click in the menu bar app, but unfortunately you can’t really use Muzzy to start your music playing. To get going, you’ll need to move over into iTunes and start an album or a playlist rolling.

Muzzy displays your album arts and lets you scan forward in a track.

Muzzy displays your album arts and lets you scan forward in a track.

Click on Muzzy’s menu bar icon to view the now playing album’s art. You can see where you are in the track, or trail your cursor over the image to quickly skip ahead or back in the song. Click the upper right corner to see a track listing and switch over to another song.

Unfortunately, moving among songs doesn’t work so well if you’re listening to a playlist. Because iTunes is piping your jingles through the speakers, it’s simple enough to tap back and forth to the next or previous song using your keyboard, but if you want to scan forward ten songs in a playlist, Muzzy up in your menu bar can’t help. You’re going to need to swing over to iTunes to take care of that.

Browse an album's tracklist.

Browse an album’s tracklist.

Track with lyrics or notes attached get a little tray below the album art. Click that to slide it out and view whatever information is hidden away. I’m not the best about making sure all of my music has the correct data attached, so I didn’t get the a lot of benefit from this, but a quick sync with any number of music info services should make the most of this Muzzy feature. This was an unexpected and clever little addition on the developer’s part, and it may even spur me to be more diligent about making sure I get all of my tracks’ details squared away.

Preferences and Settings

Muzzy has some pretty handy features you can enable in its preferences. There’s Last.fm integration, and Muzzy’s really worth it for just that. If all you need is a low profile scrobbler that stays out the way, Muzzy does the job and looks good while it does it. There’s also a handy “plugout” setting that will turn your music off if you unplug your headphones, nice if you’re prone to accidentally pulling your cord free and blasting Rick Astley at your coworkers or if you just want a quick way to shut your music off.

Muzzy can connect to Last.fm and notify you of track changes.

Muzzy can connect to Last.fm and notify you of track changes.

I like track change notifications, but I’m not in love with the big OS X notifications I get each time a song switches over. It makes me think something more important has happened, like I got an email I’ve been waiting for or I accidentally launched a missile from System Preferences. Muzzy has its own notification that is slightly lower profile and specific to the app, but if you decide to go that route, remember to turn off the iTunes notifications.

Final Thoughts

Muzzy is just a beautiful little app. There aren’t a ton of bells and whistles, but I don’t want a lot of extra features that are going to muck up my workspace. With Muzzy I can quickly check my track, the artist, even look at the album artwork, all from the menu bar and without touching iTunes. I can even scan forward and back by dragging across the album cover or select other tracks on the same album.

Muzzy will display lyrics or notes, if available.

Muzzy will display lyrics or notes, if available.

The Last.fm scrobbling is a great bonus, too, but it’s entirely optional. Same goes for the notifications. If you prefer Muzzy’s notifications, go for those, but if they’re not doing it for you, stick to what you’ve got native to OS X. All of that extra stuff is just that, extra, which means it’s optional.

I wish Muzzy integrated a little better with playlists. I so rarely just listen to an album on its own and usually throw it in with other tracks by the same or similar artists. The way Muzzy works right now, I can’t move around in a playlist very easily, and I still have to go back to iTunes for all of that. Thankfully, though, Muzzy is still on an early incarnation, and the developer is promising that there are good things in store.


Summary

Nice app for keeping up with what's currently playing in iTunes and checking out your music's album art.

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